The Discipleship Journey
By Peter Amsterdam
How you love God and how you live your faith are personal matters. Your relationship with God is yours. If you know the principles laid out in the words of Jesus and throughout the Bible, and you apply those principles—you live them—then you will build a living personal relationship with God. It will be your personal relationship with Him based on applying His words, the principles He put forth for those who choose to follow Him. If you follow the principles He put forth through His teaching and His personal example, then He will show you how to apply those principles in the situations you come across in your life. The key is that you love Him and that you live your faith in the way He shows you to, based on the principles He has given in His Word.
The same holds true for preaching the gospel. There’s not only one manner in which to witness to others. God’s call is to preach the gospel, to share His love and life with others, and that’s part of being a disciple; but where and how and to whom you preach the gospel depends on where God has you, the life He’s called you to lead, and the people He’s placed in your path.
When Jesus calls, He says, “Follow Me.” He leads some to minister to the multitudes, others to their circle of friends and acquaintances. Some He leads to a foreign land, others to their neighborhood, others to their own children. His call is to preach the gospel in the realm He has called you to. Obedience to that call means reaching those He brings across your path.
A person’s spiritual life is like a journey. The place each person is coming from will be different. The pace at which they travel will be different. The Lord might call you to walk alongside someone for a while, to impart His love and truth and Word and share fellowship. You may be sowing or watering, helping them toward discipleship, or helping them grow within discipleship if they are at the place on their journey where they are ready to commit more of themselves to God. You’re there to help, to give them counsel when they ask, to share God’s principles with them, to help them understand His Word and ways, to encourage and support, to share your discipleship life journey with them.
Teaching and discipling someone takes time. But when we effectively disciple even one person, it’s time well spent. We may be inclined to view our success in teaching others based on the number of people we are teaching, but that isn’t the way it works. You just need to do what God has called you to do, and witness to and teach those whom He brings across your path, and you will make a difference.
Francis of Assisi said, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” Our strength and our motivation for sharing Him starts with our loving Him, our being connected to Him. Then because we are loving Him, we will also be living Him, and others will feel Him through us. How you live your life, how you project Jesus, will make a difference in how the Great Commission is accomplished in your neighborhood, city, province, or country.
The ability of the Christian to witness, to live the life of a disciple, to preach Jesus, to teach Him, comes from doing those things that God has called disciples to do. It starts with the individual—the individual loving Him and living His principles, and then also having the conviction, the drive, the desire to witness, to win, to preach, to teach. Every one of us has some opportunity, some network, some realm in which we can be connecting with others and strengthening their faith, their hope, their spirits, through living our discipleship and bringing discipleship principles into our relationships.
The commission that Jesus has given to His disciples is to bring the gospel to all the world. Wherever the Lord has called you to is your mission field, and you are called to reach those He puts in your path. On an individual basis, you will most likely engage in the mission one on one with the people that you meet, work with, and come in contact with. Then, there’s also the aspect of combining your efforts with those of others. It could happen by joining forces in mission endeavors, or by meeting and praying together.—And ideally by bringing others into that meeting and praying together. That spiritual community becomes the seedbed, so to speak, from which the mission in your city or country can grow. Working within and expanding a spiritual community helps foster discipleship. It helps you as a disciple to stay spiritually connected to God and others, as you share your faith and grow in faith together.
Every nation on earth has people who need Jesus. Every city and every neighborhood contains those who need Him. You can be an instrument to bring Him to them. They need the unconditional love of God. They need disciples who can not only help them find salvation in Jesus, but also walk alongside them on their path in Christian growth and discipleship.
The job of the disciple is to win others. If you feel you can’t do much, just do what you can. The Lord will bless your efforts. Like the quote from Saint Francis, “make your walking your preaching.” Even if you can’t devote much time, or any time, to preaching right now, your life can be an example of Jesus’ love.
Be a disciple. Bring Jesus to others. Do what you can to propagate the mission. Propagating the mission is a key aspect of discipleship, and it’s the commission of God. Someone brought the gospel to you. Someone led you to Jesus. You have eternal life. You’ve been called to share that with others. Find out how to best do it where you are, in your city, in your neighborhood, among the people that you know, or to a wider audience through the Internet or e-mail, or through taking mission trips from time to time. Reach whomever God is calling you to reach in the manner He’s showing you to reach them. Work to change your part of the world, to change those that God has brought across your path.
Be instant in season and out of season. Share the gospel with those He brings you in contact with. That’s what Jesus did. That’s what His early disciples did. That’s how Christianity has continued to grow. And that’s how you, as a disciple, are fruitful.
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